Margate will serve as a key location in the newly launched KwaZulu-Natal Autumn Cycling Series, which will bring elite road cycling to the South Coast like never before in April and May.
Preparations for three brand new road cycling events in KwaZulu-Natal during one week, each of them carrying a UCI category 1.2 rating for the Elite and Under-23 men and Elite women categories, are well underway.
The string of top-quality road events will be held in KwaZulu-Natal as part of KZN Sport and Recreation’s programme to continue bringing prestigious cycling events to the province.
This includes the cross-country mountain biking event scheduled for Easter weekend, which carries the high-status UCI HC rating.
Following on from the well-established aQuelle Tour Durban (Sunday 26 April), the first of the UCI Category 1.2 events is the brand new Freedom Day Classic, which takes place on South Africa’s national holiday Freedom Day on Monday, 27 April.
The Freedom Day Classic, categorised 1.2 for both Elite and Under-23 men and women, will start and finish in Pietermartizburg’s Alexandra Park and traverse the surrounding areas of Pietermaritzburg.
The next UCI Category 1.2 event is the Maritzburg Margate Mayday Classic, which starts in Pietermaritzburg and finishes in Margate via Ixopo, on South Africa’s national holiday Worker’s Day on Friday, 1 May.
The distance is 203km and will be open to Elite men and Under-23 men only. Participants will enjoy rolling road closure along the route.
Margate will welcome road cyclists for the third and final event of the KwaZulu-Natal Autumn Cycling Series, the Hibiscus Coast Cycle Challenge.
This will also comprise UCI category 1.2 events for both Elite and Under-23 men and women. Race organiser, Kelvin du Sart, is pleased to announce that the race will receive full road closure and will take place along sections of the toll route.
In between 1 and 3 May, and part of the KwaZulu-Natal Autumn Cycling Series, the veteran, junior and youth categories will be able to compete in their own event on Saturday, 2 May in Margate, which will also benefit from the full road closure.
KwaZulu-Natal Sports and Recreation are funding this remarkable project to bring more top-class cycle racing and cycle-related events to the province.
Plans are in place to host a commissaire’s training camp over the duration of the road cycling events.
“We have been missing some UCI category road races for quite some time and Cycling SA has been working hard to bring the prestige back to some one-day events in South Africa,” said Cycling South Africa’s General Manager, Mike Bradley.
“With KZN Sport and Recreation’s funding towards these cycling projects, we are in a position to host prestigious racing events for our Elite and Under-23 cyclists, which will help them to earn UCI points whilst racing in SA without the burden of traveling overseas to compete. These 1.2 races will bring international riders to SA shores.
“Placing all the races together over the same week gives our national teams the chance to utilise their full team in high-ranked road cycling events in one province, within the space of one week.”
Along with hosting a UCI-ranked event comes financial obligations, like prize money amongst others, which is part of the stipulated conditions in hosting a UCI event. With KZN Sport and Recreation’s financial input, these obligations can be met.
“Hosting these events helps us with development in many aspects of our sport, over and above the racing,” continued Bradley.
“Add-on projects such as the Coaching Courses and Commissaire’s Training Camps further develop these components of cycling. It also boosts the tourism sector and the economy in general.”
The three new UCI-rated road cycling events further entrench Pietermaritzburg as UCI’s Africa Bike City with the continuous ensemble of high-quality UCI cycling events being hosted in the capital city since 2009.
Pietermaritzburg will play host to the African Cycling Forum in August this year, where representatives from all the cycling federations in Africa will participate.
In September, Pietermaritzburg will host the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup, with the world’s top cyclists scheduled to compete, as it is their last Paralympic qualifier for Rio 2016.
The duel between current World Champion, Ernst van Dyk, and Italian ex-Formula 1 racing car driver and current Paralympic Champion Alexander Zanardi, is set to continue on home soil for Ernst this year.
On the development side, the rural development programme that is currently in place and being run by KZN Cycling Development Officer Tyrone Johns, is set to continue through 2015, with plans in place to also teach those at the schools how to host their own events.